Although some of you might wonder whether Khaled Hosseini’s book is truly ‘hidden’ (yes, it is studied in some schools, and yes, it is on Sparknotes), I’m certain that fewer of you will question the fact that it’s as ‘gem’. A timeless coming of age story about friendship, parenthood, suffering and love, The Kite Runner is as complex as they come and should definitely be known for what it truly is.
At its core, The Kite Runner is a story about Afghanistan and its people. Khaled Hosseini depicts Afghanistan, a country which many of us only know from wartime, both before and during the conflict. Before the Russian invasion in 1979, Afghanistan was a place where children played, families stuck to their traditions and some suffered because of religious and ethnic differences. Amir is one of the privileged children of Kabul, but while many think he has everything, he fights for one thing: his father’s admiration. In this fight, however, he commits a sin that haunts him until he gets a chance to atone for it decades later. It is certainly not the kind of sin or atonement anyone would think of either.
Even though the book takes off with two lead characters, it is mostly an illusion, as it is only Amir’s story being told throughout. He is a three-dimensional lead and certainly isn’t a hero from beginning to end. He doesn’t begin as the best main character ever: envious, immature (understandably, as he was only 12), quite selfish and cowardly. However, Amir slowly grows into what many other books would have him be from the beginning, yet another reason why this book is so believable in this sense.
The Kite Runner is not a difficult read. It is clear, subtle where needs be, filled with raw emotion and avoids endless descriptions or overly complex metaphors. While the plot is a bit exaggerated at times, it definitely makes up for it with its unpredictability and emotional power. Amir’s childhood sin is dark, but it’s not even half as dark as another shocker coming further down the line. It’s completely out of the blue and brings along serious amounts of heartbreak.
For a long time, The Kite Runner was that novel with an intriguing title that everyone on Goodreads seemed to love or have it on their ‘To-Read’ lists. Incidentally, I also had it on mine. I had no idea what running a kite meant for Afghanistan culturally. I definitely didn’t expect to experience so many layers of sadness in a story supposedly based around childhood joy (or whatever it is you’d generally expect from a novel with a title with the word ‘kite’ in it).
Although Hosseini masterfully foreshadows tragedy from the very first page, I did not predict how much of an emotional rollercoaster The Kite Runner would be. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not a soppy emotional rollercoaster, it’s an exciting one. Even if I felt heavy or worried whenever I closed it, something would make me crave to know what’s coming. And it will be the same for you.
The Kite Runner is getting a reprint on September 21st 2017.